COL Another buck joins the family

The Rushford Buck came home last week. For good. He plucked himself out of the wild woods last November by giving himself up to me on the Friday of last year's 3A buck season.

I don't think he expected me to be where I was, which is rather elementary, I suppose. I'd like to think I outsmarted the brute, but that's highly unlikely.

Wait. It's bloody impossible. I gave up flattering myself that way years ago.

Big bucks are too smart for me. All the bucks I've harvested are smarter than me. When I harvest one it's because the beast goofed. Or decided, perhaps, that it was time to move on to a different world.

No matter. I know they've all been better than me. They've all been wilder, stronger, faster, tougher, smarter.


I've got two big deer on the wall. One I shot in 1985, and now this fellow. I've also taken plenty in between. Every one of them is a favorite. And all of them my are my superior. While my background affords me some knowledge of their life history, I always come up short in thinking I'm their equal in the woods.

While saying that I worship deer would be a stretch, I sure identify with them. I sure admire them. And my life is much richer for them.

They teach me about a lot of things, mostly about myself, who I am, and who I should strive to be. I spend time alone in the woods because of deer. It's their party.

When a deer comes into our house as a mount, he's an immediate family member. An icon. A talisman. He's big news -- included in our prayers. He gets his nose gently rubbed for luck, and he's treated with respect. Game days and other challenge days don't begin until the big fellow (and now "fellows") are greeted with cheer.

Dressing up antlers for Christmas is taboo, as would be putting a bunny nose on one of these guys at Easter. Do you remember in the movie E.T., when Elliot's little sister befriended E.T. and dressed him up in girly clothes? Well I do. And you can bet Elliot hasn't forgotten it either!

The bigger fellow, "Big Buck" came from down near Kellogg. I confess to being a tad nervous about introducing a new lad into Big Buck's territory, so as a precaution I brought kept him upstairs for a week or so.

This sat well with everyone in the house but our daughter, who called me one day at noon, having just dragged herself out of bed. She sounded sleepy, and not a little perturbed.

"Dad," she said over the phone in a voice that at first frightened me, "we have to have a new rule in the house. When something that is DEAD is brought home, it needs to be announced to EVERYONE in the family!"


Apparently Rushford Buck jumped out at her from his resting spot on the computer chair. She, while stumbling about in a state of partial awakeness, nearly jumped out of her skin at the sight of the bruiser.

"Oh yeah," I said as I hung up, "that big boy is here to stay!"

We mounted him so that he's just a tad below Big Buck, being the lesser of the two and out of respect for the former. As for my wife, her attitude's changed about things like this over the years. For the better frankly. But in my view, she has a little room for improvement.

For instance, I'd like it if just once she didn't cheer when she spotted a deer head for sale at a garage sale. Just once, I'd like her to NOT laugh out loud and say, "Oh, yeah! Divorce AND a garage sale! Good for her. She got the house from that creep, and look what's the first thing to go.

"I'll bet she's giving that thing away!"

I don't think that type of humor is funny at all.

Ryan is a naturalist at Olmsted County's Oxbow Park north of Byron and writes a monthly column for the Post-Bulletin. To comment or pass along story ideas, call him at (507) 775-2451.

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